Ty Burr
July 09, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Showing a thorough misunderstanding of what made the daft 1985 comedy classic ”Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” so special, Big Top Pee-Wee, the follow-up replaces visionary director Tim Burton with hack Randal Kleiser (”Grease”) and spends way too much time on farm boy Pee-wee’s romantic troubles with perky schoolmarm Penelope Ann Miller and circus acrobat Valeria Golino. There’s even a comic sex scene, and while this wouldn’t be the last time the words ”Pee-wee Herman” and ”sex” would be mentioned in the same breath, the concept is still…icky. Would that costars Kris Kristofferson and Susan Tyrrell had more to do, or that the young actor under the Dog-Faced Boy makeup — some kid named Benicio Del Toro — were able to flex his charisma.

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